After two years of domination in Formula One, the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team are raking up wins like they grow on trees. In both 2014 and 2015 Mercedes won 16 of the 19 races in the season and either car has taken pole in every single race over the two years, except for two. However the real question is will they continue this form for the third year running in 2016?
In the words of Johnny English, “a simple question, which I think has a complex answer”. If we go on reports from pre-season testing, Ferrari were certainly able to prove that they have truly stepped up their pace with their 2016 car. However the purpose of pre-season is not about going quick, but gathering the most amount of data, something which Mercedes were the most successful at. They clocked up the most laps over the eight days, with 1294 at an average of 161.75 a day. Ferrari didn’t match that performance, with only 891 at an average of 111.3 a day. So if you want to say who was more successful at pre-season testing, by definition it was Mercedes, even though they weren’t the fastest.
However, this may not be all about the car. Lets look at the drivers. Mercedes have Lewis Hamilton, a three-time World Champion and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari have Sebastian Vettel, a four-time World Champion and Kimi Räikkönen, a one-time World Champion. In terms of experience, its five to three in Ferrari’s favor. This difference wasn’t as noticeable in 2015, as Mercedes genuinely had the better package, but there were definitely points in the season where it was noticeable.
Take Hungary for example: When Ferrari were 1 -2 in that race, Räikkönen acted as a layer of protection for Vettel. Ferrari proved that they could get their drivers to work together to achieve a good result for the team.
In China, Mercedes had each driver squabbling over the others’ driving and caring more about where they finished individually than working as a team. In simplistic terms, Mercedes have tension and two drivers who care about themselves, whereas Ferrari have two drivers who will work together to bring home a good team result. If the playing field is even, in terms of car performance in 2016, then these qualities, which Ferrari have found in their drivers, could be the difference between winning and losing. Mercedes will have to control their drivers a lot more than previous years if Ferrari is able to pose an honest threat.
To analyze, Ferrari is a team which is better organized, has a greater fan base and has the advantage of being the underdog. I think that the first lap at Hungary proved that Hamilton doesn’t quite know how to lose anymore, as he made wild acquisitions and went from bad to worse because of them.
To be honest, I have no clue who on earth is going to be faster, but I think many people believe that Ferrari will be the one. Ferrari has both drivers happy, as well as a competitive, reliable engine and chassis. Mercedes have scrappy drivers and I really think that is going to be their downfall.
The first true look at either team will be during the Australian Grand Prix on the weekend of March 20 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.